2023 is a year of important anniversaries for Citroën, as after the 30th anniversary of the Xantia and before the 75th anniversary of the mythical 2CV, it is the turn of the no less famous Méhari to celebrate its 55th anniversary. Unveiled on 16 May 1968, at the heart of the French student protest movement, the Méhari, based on the Dyane 6, offers a certain notion of the freedom that only the automobile can offer.
With the Méhari, which Citroën unveiled on the Deauville golf course, the brand threw a spanner in the works with an indefinable vehicle, an atypical pick-up with an ABS plastic body designed by Roland de La Poype. Built on a Dyane 6 platform, it was launched under the name Dyane 6 Méhari. It was produced for almost 20 years, between 1968 and 1987, with 144,953 units produced (including 1,213 Méhari 4x4), a surprising success for this original vehicle. The Méhari was produced mainly at Citroën's Forest plant in Belgium, but also at seven other plants in France, Spain and Portugal.
A certain idea of freedom
The name Méhari comes from the male name méhari, which is given to the dromedaries of North Africa and the Sahara. These animals are renowned for their off-road ability, their resistance and their sobriety. The mehari is capable of transporting both goods and people over long distances. This name is therefore very representative of Citroën's Méhari model, renowned for its ability to adapt to all terrains.
Because if the Méhari looks like a cabriolet remarkably adapted to the summer, it is quite different thanks to a winter covering that allows it to be used all year round and in any way. In fact, the Méhari stands out for its practicality and modularity, as part of its floor can be converted into a backrest, allowing two seats to be added in the rear, thus accommodating up to 4 passengers. It can also be used in a wide range of situations, carrying both different loads and a reasonable number of passengers.
Thanks to its plastic body, which consists of only 11 easily repairable parts, the Méhari can be cleaned with a single jet of water, both inside and out, making it an extremely simple and easy to use car.
Marketed for almost 20 years in more than 144,000 units, the Citroën Méhari has strangely known only 3 versions, including two special series: the Méhari Place in 1983, recognizable by its yellow colour and sold in Spain and Portugal, and the Méhari Azur, sold in 700 units on the French, Italian and Portuguese markets. In 1979, Citroën introduced a new variant, the 4x4 version, which still offers almost unrivalled freedom today.
The Méhari's versatility made it a vehicle of particular interest to public services such as the police, customs, airports, racetracks and many others, as well as to traders, tradesmen and private individuals. The Méhari had a long career in the French army, which took delivery of a total of 11,457 Méhari between 1972 and 1987.
Having become an automotive icon, the Citroën Méhari has regularly inspired modern Citroëns such as the C3 Pluriel launched in 2003 or the Cactus M concept in 2015, which foreshadowed the e-Méhari at the end of 2015. Today, Méhari's simple, light and carefree spirit is indispensable and continues to influence the brand, especially with the next second version of My AMI Buggy, which will be available very soon.